Admissions - PhD Literature

Application deadline is 1/5/2020

Application Requirements for the PhD program in Literature

Applications are reviewed once all supporting materials have been received. For more information about your application status, please check online or contact the graduate program staff.  Also, please review Graduate Studies' Frequently Asked Questions page, which covers most general admissions questions, but feel free to contact program staff faculty for more details!

Please note UC Davis only offers application fee waivers to applicants who have participated in specific graduate preparation programs. Applicants who are affiliated with these programs must indicate their participation AND must provide the name and contact information for their program coordinator in the relevant section of the online application system to receive a fee waiver.

For Fall 2019 admissions 163 applications were submitted, 24 offers were made and 8 students were admitted. The previous year our program received 124 applications, made 26 offers, and ended up admitting 12 students.

Application Resources
Program Requirements
Designated Emphases We Offer
Past Student Work
Recent Job Placements
Funding Your PhD

Statement of Purpose

Please highlight your academic preparation and motivation; interests, specializations and career goals; and fit for pursuing graduate study at UC Davis.

  • preparation and motivation may include your academic and research experiences that prepare you for this graduate program (for example: coursework, employment, exhibitions, fieldwork, foreign language proficiency, independent study, internships, laboratory activities, presentations, publications, studio projects, teaching, and travel or study abroad) and motivation or passion for graduate study.
  • interests, specializations, and career goals may include your research interests, disciplinary subfields, area/s of specialization, and professional objectives.
  • fit may include how your preparation, experiences, and interests match the specific resources and characteristics of your graduate program at UC Davis. Please identify specific faculty within your desired graduate program with whom you would like to work and how their interests match your own.


Personal History and Diversity Statement

The University of California Davis, a public institution, is committed to supporting the diversity of the graduate student body and promoting equal opportunity in higher education. This commitment furthers the educational mission to serve the increasingly diverse population and educational needs of California and the nation. Both the Vice Provost of Graduate Education/Dean of Graduate Studies and the University of California affirm that diversity is critical to promoting lively intellectual exchange and the variety of ideas and perspectives essential to advancing higher education and research. Our graduate students contribute to the global pool of future scholars and academic leaders, thus high value is placed on achieving a diverse graduate student body to support the University of California’s academic excellence. We invite you to include in this statement how you may contribute to the diversification of graduate education and the UC Davis community.

The purpose of this essay is to get to know you as an individual and potential graduate student. Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. You may include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, community service, outreach activities, residency and citizenship, first-generation college status, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how your life experiences contribute to the social, intellectual, or cultural diversity within a campus community and your chosen field; or how you might serve educationally underrepresented and underserved segments of society with your graduate education.

This essay should complement but not duplicate the content in the Statement of Purpose.

Three Letters of Recommendation

  • from professors or other persons situated to speak about your potential for graduate study.
  • only online submissions via Slate will be accepted.


  • Copies are allowed.  If admitted, you’ll be required to send official transcripts
  • UC Davis requires academic records from each college-level institution you have attended - instructions can be found here.

Writing Sample

  • One-two research or term papers written for English courses. The total should not exceed 30 pages excluding images and bibliography.

GRE Scores

  • GRE scores from the General Test taken within the last five years.  There is no required minimum score. You must use the correct institution code for UC Davis (4834) but it is not necessary to use a department code. Regardless of what department code you enter, your GRE score will still be matched to your application.

Prospective students may also submit a Fellowship Application after applying to the program. 

All Applicants: Please review the UC Davis Graduate Studies Admissions & Application page in addition to the program requirements listed above.

International Applicants: Please review the following application information from the UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies. 

Funding Your PhD
All students admitted to the PhD program are guaranteed five years of funding in the form of Teaching Assistant positions during the first two years and an Associate Instructor position the following three.  These appointments provide a partial tuition waiver and monthly salary.  A limited amount of Graduate Student Researcher positions are available where students assist faculty with research projects.
First year nonresident students receive a supplemental tuition fellowship.  Second year students who come to Davis from out of state are expected to establish residency during their first year.
Departmental funds are also available, such as the Miller Travel Fund, for students to attend conferences, interviews and conduct research.  Additional progress-based and summer language and travel fellowship stipends are awarded with funding allocated to us by Graduate Studies.
The UC Davis Humanities Institute offers fellowships students can apply for to fund their projects.  Admitted students are also considered for University-wide fellowships.

Questions? Contact Us


Aaron Barstow

Department of English
PhD Program in Literature
(530) 752-2738


Andi Carr

Department of English
MFA Program in Creative Writing
(530) 752-2281